Freud: The Master... or a Has-Been?

Not long ago I heard about a publisher that balked at an introductory psychology book submitted by a respectable professor because it didn't criticize psychoanalysis. Few college professors, according to the publisher, will buy a textbook if it is favorable towards Freud.

The bias that sometimes misleads many academics in psychology is truly unfortunate. Personally, (or "IMHO" as they say on the net), I believe that no single person has had a greater influence on psychiatry, clinical psychology, and the field of psychotherapy, than Freud. I feel I would be doing a disservice to my students if I didn't teach them about such indispensable concepts as the unconscious, defense mechanisms, dreams, and transference.

However, I believe that there are limitations to Freud's theory as well as a tendency towards orthodoxy within some psychoanalytic circles that is as damaging to the growth of psychoanalysis as any outside force. For this reason, I want my students to know about how psychoanalysis has evolved over the past hundred years - including such topics as ego psychology, object relations theory, self psychology, and psychoanalytic phenomenology.

I also firmly believe in the need to integrate psychoanalytic ideas with those from other fields in psychology - humanistic theory, behavioral theory, biopsychology. One of my particular areas of interest is in the enrichment of psychoanalysis by integrating it with ideas from religious/spiritual disciplines - especially Eastern spiritual traditions like Zen and Taoism, which is the subject of my book Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Eastern Thought. This integration, I believe, follows the spirit of a multicultural education for psychology students.

Here's a book I would highly recommend for anyone interested in the history of psychoanalysis in the professional and academic world of psychology:

Lane, Robert and Meisels, Murray (Eds.) (1994). A history of the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

back to the Essays on Teaching page
back to the Teaching Clinical Psychology home page